For many of us, the term ‘open relationship’ sounds like a fancy way of declaring that you openly cheat on your partner because we believe that a relationship needs to be monogamous in order for it to actually be considered as a relationship. The whole idea of a non-monogamous relationship sounds weird, to say the least, because outwardly, you see a happy couple who have been together for so long and perhaps are even married but the guy actually has a girlfriend(s) and the girl also has a boyfriend(s) and both of them know about it and oddly enough, are completely fine with it!
Open relationships have existed since the 1970’s and seem to be increasing rapidly in the 21st century. In a recent survey by The Huffington Post, out of 1000 people, 13% admitted to being in an open relationship either at the moment or in the past and a further 14% admitted to wanting to try it out. Couples in open relationships think of it as ‘monogam-ish’ because they might not be limiting each other to one partner, sexually, but are actually, in some ways, committed to just one person. There are lots of things about open relationships which many of us can’t comprehend and here are some common misconceptions that are resolved by the couples themselves:
1. There are rules.
Open relationships aren’t as ‘wild and free’ as we might think. There are actually a set of rules both partners establish when they agree on being non-monogamous. These rules vary from couple to couple based on whatever they think is best.
One couple might agree that mutual friends are off-limits since it might make things more complicated while another couple might think that it’s fine to be with them. One thing all of these couples agree on is ‘communication’. In order for an open relationship to work, both partners need to be open in regards to communication too. They have to tell each other who they were with and when.
2. There’s a difference between being in an open relationship and ‘swinging’.
Most people don’t think that there’s much of a difference between the two since both are technically non-monogamous, however, there are actually quite a lot. First of all, swinging is when two couples agree on swapping partners for the night and this is an event based encounter. Meanwhile in an open relationship, you aren’t limited to be with the partner of the person whom your own partner is with, you can basically date whoever the rules apply to.
3. The outside relationships might be long term.
An open relationship doesn’t necessarily mean that the only degrees of ‘freedom’ they get are one night stands or occasional hookups. Some couples have agreed to allow long term relationships with other people as well. See, the only way an open relationship can even exist is if any and all elements of jealousy are removed. Couples often have long term girlfriends or boyfriends outside of the relationship and might even bring them home to meet their ‘mains’.
4. Cheating is still possible.
When your partner breaks the rules or lies about who they were with, then it is technically still cheating even if it’s in a non-monogamous relationship. Believe it or not, there is a level of trust in an open relationship which might be just the same as in a monogamous relationship and if you break that trust then you’re cheating no matter what the circumstances might be.
5. Monogamy was tried.
When asked why they chose open relationships, many couples answered that they had, in fact, tried monogamy but ultimately decided against it. Many couples actually go on for many years as monogamous before starting an open relationship. The reason why is because they don’t consider their fantasies or love to be limited to only one person.
6. The children are being properly taken care of.
If a non-monogamous couple has children, then do actually still take care of them. Contrary to the popular belief that these children are exposed to obscenity or the concept of infidelity of sorts at an earlier age, the truth is that special care is taken to make sure that their kids do not find out about their lifestyle unless they develop enough mental maturity to actually comprehend what’s going on. They do realise that if society still can’t fully understand the idea behind it, then how can children?
At the end of the day, being non-monogamous is a matter of choice and you might choose to be in an open relationship or not to. When two people agree to it, they’re basically agreeing to a taboo life style which involves multiple partners but still maintains a sure degree of commitment.
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What’s your take on open relationships? I would love to know your thoughts, let me know in the comments below!
The more you understand yourself, the more silence there is, the healthier you are. —Maxime Lagacé